America has a coffee addiction. Nearly 62 percent of US adults drink coffee regularly, knocking back over 400 million cups of coffee a day. If you worry that your coffee cravings are unhealthy, you can relax (with a cup of joe). A new study tells us that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day may help you live longer by helping us fight disease But what kind of coffee should you drink, and how much is too much?

Specifically, the study found that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day is associated with a longer lifespan and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to avoiding coffee, according to a report published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The research team sought to understand how coffee consumption impacts general health, longevity, and disease development, claiming that minimal research has been completed on the subject. This research analyzed the connections between different types of coffee consumption including ground, instant, and decaffeinated and cardiovascular disease, incident arrhythmias, and death. The study revealed that coffee consumption, across all types of beverages, correlated with lower risks for cardiovascular diseases and death.

“In this large, observational study, ground, instant, and decaffeinated coffee were associated with equivalent reductions in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular disease or any cause,” Professor Peter Kistler of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia said in a statement. “The results suggest that mild to moderate intake of ground, instant, and decaffeinated coffee should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Can You Drink Too Much Coffee?

The researchers concluded that consuming ground, instant, and decaffeinated coffees are linked with a significant reduction in death, especially among those who drink two to three cups per day.

The study found that drinking instant coffee benefitted people by lowering the risk of death by 11 percent, while decaffeinated coffee lowered mortality risk by 14 percent, and ground coffee had the highest benefit, lowering the risk of death by 27 percent, compared with people who did not drink coffee.

The best results were found to be in the group that drank 2 to 3 cups a day. Even up to 4 cups a day was healthy, but among those who drank over five cups a day, there was an uptick in the rate of cardiovascular incidents, according to the data. Whether this is attributable to coffee consumption or other factors (such as the fact that people drinking over 5 cups may have night jobs or stress, or suffer from lack of sleep) was not discussed by the researchers in the results.

Unfiltered vs. Filtered Coffee: One is Less Healthy

There is one caveat: Other studies have found that unfiltered coffee, such as espresso or French press, does not remove two large molecules that can add to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, driving up blood pressure and leading to higher cholesterol over time. So if you're a coffee addict, always go for the filtered coffee that you get in a drip coffee maker and skip the Americano or espresso, which may contribute to high cholesterol.

Don't believe a simple paper filter is that powerful? The unfiltered coffee study specifically found that consumption of unfiltered coffee may cause a slight but significant rise in systolic blood pressure over time. The researchers checked these results and confirmed that your paper coffee filter is powerful enough that compounds that affect cholesterol and blood pressure can not pass through it.

The Coffee Study Looked at the Chance of Cardiovascular Disease

To conduct this study, the researchers examined data from the UK Biobank, consisting of adults between 40 and 69 years old, and included 449,563 participants free of arrhythmias or other cardiovascular diseases. Once participants completed a survey concerning how many cups of coffee they drink, the researchers grouped them into six categories that ranged from zero consumption, less than one cup a day, one, two to three cups daily, and then the highest coffee consumers, who drank an average of four to five, and more than five cups per day. They then collected data 12.5 years later, looking at medical records, and death records.

The research team also categorized the participants by their coffee preferences, noting that 44.1 percent preferred instant; 18.4 percent preferred ground; 15.2 percent preferred decaffeinated; 22.4 percent drank no coffee. Regardless of coffee preference, the study concluded that drinking any coffee helps to reduce fatality while prolonging longevity.

Drink Coffee for Heart Health

They found that coffee drinkers had an overall reduced risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to non-coffee drinkers. Coffee drinkers who consumed two to three cups a day had a significantly lower incidence of heart disease or death over the 12.5 years.

“Caffeine is the most well-known constituent in coffee, but the beverage contains more than 100 biologically active components. It is likely that the non-caffeinated compounds were responsible for the positive relationships observed between coffee drinking, cardiovascular disease, and survival,” Kistler said. “Our findings indicate that drinking modest amounts of coffee of all types should not be discouraged but can be enjoyed as a heart-healthy behavior.”

More specifically, consuming instant or ground coffee was linked to lower risks for arrhythmias (problems with heart rate) including atrial fibrillation. The research revealed that the lowest risks were associated with two to three cups a day of instant coffee (12 percent) and four to five cups a day of ground coffee (17 percent), respectively, when compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Want to Live Longer? Eat Plant-Based

This study joins a growing body of research indicating that coffee consumption is beneficial to longevity and general health. Other studies have found that coffee presents several health benefits for your gut and brain, but coffee can be just one component of a diet that improves longevity. This February, a study found that a mostly plant-based diet can prolong life expectancy by over 10 years or more, especially when adopted earlier in life.

Similarly, another study found that a plant-centered diet adopted from 18 to 30 years old lower the risk of heart disease significantly 30 years later. These studies show that reducing risk factors for cardiovascular or other forms of the disease can be achieved by simple dietary changes.

Bottom Line: Drink Coffee to Live Longer and Healthier

Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day can significantly lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and improve longevity. Try subbing out full-fat dairy for an oat milk creamer to increase your chances of staying healthy for decades!

For more research-backed content, visit The Beet's Health & Nutrition articles

31 Delicious, Plant-Based Recipes to Make on Repeat

Want fresh ideas for meals that are healthy, plant-based, and delicious? This free newsletter is for you. Sign up to get a recipe of the day delivered to your inbox every morning.

More From The Beet